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The Hand That Trembles: A Mystery (Ann Lindell Mysteries) Hardcover – August 2, 2011
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Praise for Kjell Eriksson
“The disappearance of a small-town politician masks dark secrets and triggers a series of further crimes… A challenging and rewarding mystery.”
“Stunning, haunting…can chill you to the bone.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review on The Princess of Burundi
“Riveting in tone and spirit. . . resembles the books of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, not to mention those of the modern master Henning Mankell.”—The Wall Street Journal on The Princess of Burundi
“A brilliant, haunting work of psychological obsession.”--The Globe and Mail on The Cruel Stars of the Night
“Reminiscent of Ruth Rendell. As insightful and intelligent as it is engrossing.”--Library Journal on The Cruel Stars of the Night
“Ingenious…Very satisfying.” --Los Angeles Times on The Princess of Burundi
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
As the fourth title in the Ann Lindell series, Kjell Eriksson's "The Hand That Trembles" does not begin as a mystery. Rather, Eriksson begins his complex plot in 1956 by describing how as a boy Sven-Arne came to identify with his Uncle Ante, a man changed forever by his experience fighting the fascists in Spain. The narrative then jumps briefly to 1993, then 2005 with Sven-Arne living a laborer's life in Bangalore, India. When Detective Lindell enters the narrative, however, the past and present begin to coalesce into the familiar rhythms of the police procedural. Lindell, a single mother, reluctantly agrees to investigate the severed foot found in Öregrund, even though the location is painfully close to where her former lover still resides. The investigation leads her to the small, isolated community on Bultudden Point where three bachelors, each living alone, appear the most likely suspects. At the same time, Lindell is drawn into the investigation of another murder in Uppsala, a cold case from 1993 that still haunts Berglund, Lindell's colleague and mentor. These multiple stories, skillfully woven together, keep the narrative moving and the reader engaged.
"The Hand That Trembles" is one of those mysteries that allow readers to vicariously experience another country and culture from the inside and to view history from a different mindset than their own. Kjell Eriksson's Ann Lindell will definitely find a home with those who love Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallender or Arnaldur Indriðason's Erlendur Sveinsson. It's a lonely job but somebody's got to do it.
The previous three books in this series, in order, are "The Princess of Barundi," "The Cruel Stars of Night," and "The Demon from Dakar."
Sven-Arne Persson is a married man, a county commissioner, an active member of the Socialist party. One day, he leaves a high level meeting and disappears. Twelve years later, he is recognized by another Swede who sees him in the streets of Bangalore, India.
Detective Ann Lindell is given the responsibility of investigating the circumstances of a foot, in a sandal, that washed up on the beach.
Ann's superior, Berglund is recuperating from the successful removal of a brain tumor. He eagerly devotes his recuperation time to review all the evidence and interviews that were conducted when Nils Gottfied Dufva, an elderly man in a wheelchair, was found beaten to death in 1993. Berglund was a patrol constable at the time but he feels a responsibility to the victim in this cold case.
From these points, the story winds back and forth through decades and continents. Arne Persson, Sven-Arne's uncle, is a mighty force in his nephew's life and in the life of the community. Sven-Arne is a committed member of the Socialist party; Arne is red to the soul, a Communist who went to Spain to defeat the emerging Fascist government led by Francisco Franco. Arne is an old man but in full control of his intelligence and his memories. As his time on earth is drawing to a close, Arne is haunted by some of those moments.
As Ann Lindell tries to discover the identity of the woman who was dismembered, she finds herself interviewing the residents of a small community, the people who live on the "avenue" in the section of town called Bultudden. This neighborhood remembers too well the suicide of one long time resident of their community, another act that reaches out to cloud the lives of those living in the present.
From the act that drove Sven-Arne from Sweden, to the murder and dismemberment of the woman , to the suicide of one who sees no alternative, to the bludgeoning of an old man, THE HAND THAT TREMBLES hands the strands to Ann Lindell and leave it to her untangle the knots. This is a complicated story that moves from one time period to another without much notice. It is not an easy story to summarize. It requires the reader to accept the notion of generational guilt. Europe is roiled today by the influx of immigrants coupled with the resurgence of the Nazi party. There is nothing "neo" about the groups whose philosophy spurs hate.
As seen through the eyes of the brilliant Nordic writers publishing in the twenty-first century, the culture and the people of Scandinavia are still facing the political reality of the domination of most of western Europe by Nazi politics and culture. The Swedish flirtation with communism during the 1930's was a reaction to the Spanish Civil War. Germany and Italy supported Franco and the Soviet Union supported the republican faction. The International Brigades were made up of volunteers from across Europe and the United States. Arne's life spirals out from his experience, including the death of a friend. The face of the enemy is Swedish and the passage of years does not change the desire for revenge.
Eriksson doesn't forget that most crimes don't have deep roots. Some are motivated by greed, lust, and envy in the moment. Small communities, like Bultudden, pass secrets through the generations in the same manner as they pass on property. As usual, books by Kjell Eriksson are character driven and the characters who fare best are those who serve in the police. Old crimes never die and, for men like Berglund, the past is present.